Bristol-Hannover 75

In 1947, in the wake of the Second World War, when Europe was struggling through the worst winter in living memory, children from across Bristol sent food parcels, toys and pairs of shoes to schools in poverty-stricken Hannover, Germany. In return, Hannover ‘paid’ for the gifts with music. Such gestures of goodwill were indicative of the wish, on the part of both countries, for reconciliation, and were the first steps in what would become an enduring friendship between Bristol and Hannover. They subsequently became the first cities in England and Germany to be twinned after the War.

In 2017, as part of an ACE and HLF funded collaboration Myers-Insole Local Learning CIC brought school children together from Bristol and Hannover to compose music and swap decorated shoes in a final performance held in what is now Bristol Beacon to mark the 70th anniversary of this special relationship.

Following the In Someone Else’s Shoes performance, a touring exhibition explored the roots of the twinning and told the stories of some of the enduring friendships through first hand accounts. 

Building on the 2017 project, we have been working with Katy Mahood and her 2nd year Narrative Non-Fiction Writing students from the University of the West of England exploring the theme of friendship and what the connection between the two cities has meant for Bristol-Hannover alumni in the past, today and in the future.

“In October 2022, creative and professional writing students from UWE and members of the Bristol-Hannover exchange took part in a sharing memories event at City Hall. The stories spanned the many decades of the special relationship between the two cities. They were stories of long-lasting friendships, youthful exuberance and lives rebuilt after the devastation of war.

What shone through all the memories – whatever decade they were from –  was the empathy and connection that the Bristol-Hannover exchange has nurtured between our two cities for many years. It is a programme that teaches young people how much the two cultures have in common. ‘We were like them,’ says Ian Turner who first went on the exchange in the 1970s, ‘and they were like us.’

Telling someone else’s story is a great responsibility. The students took this responsibility seriously and listened, transcribed and curated their interviews with great care. What resulted was a series of profiles that does justice to the people who so generously shared their time. Their stories show in human terms how valuable the Bristol-Hannover exchange has been over the last 75 years, and how important it is that the friendship between our cities continues for generations to come.”

Katy Mahood, University of the West of England

Click the names below to read the profiles.

Myers-Insole Local Learning would like to thank Mark Allinson, Clive Burlton, Barbara Cowell, Ethne Dando, Hannah Duquesne, Margret Egle, Colin Evans, Lynda Evans, Mavis Gray, Richard Harris, Alix Hughes, Dr Ann Kennard, Carla Murray, Robert Nicholls, Petra Pilger, Jonathan Radnedge, Sylvia Supple, Graham Tratt, Dr Ian Turner, Helga Wawra and Kim Wenger for sharing with us their memories and stories of friendship.

A special thank you to chair of Bristol Hannover Council, Dr Ann Kennard and her counterpart in Hannover, Robert Nicholls together with Janika Millan, Petra Pilger and Nele Tast and Bristol Central Librarians, Sophie Evans and Dawn Dyer.

To find out more about the Bristol Hannover Council visit Bristol Hannover Council.